By the 25th over of the morning session, Sri Lanka almost had India all wrapped up - well short of the anticipated 600-mark that they've so easily amassed in the first innings of the previous two Tests.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja was banned for one match for unsafe play in India's second Test win that secured the team an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
India have comfortably dominated Sri Lanka in every department, netting their biggest away win in the first test, and defeating the Lankans by an innings and 53 runs in the second.
India made one change to their line-up, with left-arm leg-spinner Kuldeep Yadav coming in for the suspended Ravindra Jadeja, while the hosts made three changes to their side leaving out injured Rangana Herath and Nuwan Pradeep along with Dhananjaya de Silva.
At stumps, Wriddhiman Saha (13) and Hardik Pandya (one) were batting at the crease. At stumps, Sri Lanka were 19 for 1, needing a further 333 to make India bat again. In their team, fast bowlers Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Gamage have been added to Sri Lanka's squad for the third Test, while batsman Danushka Gunathilaka - who played in Galle - has been omitted.
Sri Lanka have suffered a string of injuries to key players in the series.
Having survived that, Kuldeep put his head down and ground out 26 off 73 balls to help add 62 for the eighth wicket with Pandya. The pair notched up their 50 runs in 93-balls.
Angelo Mathews had no time to react when Rahul edged a cut past him at slip off Sandakan, but he missed out on a century after dancing down the track to strike Pushpakumara to Karunaratne at mid-on. India went into tea with a score of 235 for three.
Pace spearhead Vishwa Fernando chipped in with the wicket of Ravichandran Ashwin, who was caught behind after a hard-working 31.
"It's not easy to score runs out there and even outfield is not that quick".
In the first two Tests, Pandya had largely been used in a supporting role to relieve the burden on India's four main bowlers. Given that India has two quality spinners, Sri Lanka would be hoping to bowl out the visitors as early as possible.